Bhopal: A BJP legislator in Madhya Pradesh, wants Muslims barred entry from the yearly ‘Garba’ celebrations, or the Gujarati dance festival to be held in several northern states in October.
The shocking statement comes from Madhya Pradesh BJP vice president and MLA from Indore, Usha Thakur, who told reporters that organisers of ‘garba’ should only allow Hindu youths to enter the ‘pandals’ or the temporary structures, and that too on producing their voter identity cards.
“It is not appropriate to let those people who do not believe in Hindu religion enter the pandals for ‘garba’ only for dancing and singing. I have appealed to organisers to allow only Hindu youths in pandals and that too on production of voter identity cards,” the 48-year-old legislator said.
Thakur claimed that, “We have got data that during the Garba, on an average, four lakh girls convert to Islam every year. So we have started this awareness drive. It has been seen that people who have no faith or devotion to the festival put tilak and wear sacred thread and practice Garba and during that time woo our girls.”
While how Thakur arrived at the absurd conversion figure is yet to be determined, the Congress were quick to hammer the BJP lawmaker and ridiculed her Khap style dictat.
Responding to her statements, Congress leader Satyadev Katere said, “The idea is absurd. You cannot force things on society like this.”
“Thakur’s appeal neither matches Indian culture nor upholds dignity of Constitution. This cannot be tolerated in a democratic set up,” said K.K. Mishra, chief spokesperson of Congress’ state unit.
Ahead of the bypoll elections on Saturday in key states including Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, many BJP ministers and Hindutva outfits have raised the issue of “Love Jihad” – a concocted theory used by anti-Muslim groups, to polarize communities on communal lines, by the making the majority community believe that there is an alleged Muslim strategy to convert Hindu women, and Thakur’s statements is seen as part of the long term Hindutva strategy.